Lawmakers Defy Public Opinion, Imperil GMO Labeling Push in Northeast
Blow to NH labeling law hampers region-wide labeling efforts
The GMO labeling movement suffered a blow in the Northeast on Wednesday.
A bill that would have required the labeling of all GMO food on store shelves in New Hampshire died in the state's House of Representatives.
The vote not only puts a damper on the labeling fight in the state, but is also a set back for similar fights in the nearby states of Maine and Connecticut. Both passed laws this year that require the labeling of GMO foods, but those laws contain within them a limit. In order for the laws to be enacted, at least four other Northeastern states, together totaling a population of over 20 million people, must enact similar GMO laws. Proponents of those clauses claim that it ensures regional adoption of the new labeling system to make it easier on individual suppliers.
Those states could include Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
Following Wednesday's vote, New Hampshire, at least for now, is out of the running.
According to the Concord Monitor, Rep. Jim Parison (R) encouraged many in the New Hampshire House to kill the bill "even if it would be unpopular with some constituents."
A poll conducted in November by The Mellman Group on behalf of Food Democracy Now!, showed that an overwhelming majority of New Hampshire residents—Democrats (93%), Independents (89%) and Republicans (90%)—agree that they have the right to know whether their food contains GMOs.
“Our constituents have spoken about safety concerns,” said Rep. Peter Bixby, a Dover Democrat. “Mandatory labeling would empower these individuals to make their own decisions.”
However, the House ultimately voted 185 to 162 to kill the bill.